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BRUCE VISITS DOCTOR, EXPECTS TO KEEP PLAYING

Bruce Smith flew to Vail, Colo., Monday to get his sore knees checked out by Dr. Richard Steadman.

Buffalo Bills coach Marv Levy said the team's star defensive end wanted to have a face-to-face meeting with the renowned orthopedic surgeon.

"Bruce told me last night," Levy said, " 'I'm going to finish the season, I'll tell you that. I can handle it and I just want to go out there and sit with him and find out all the exact details face-to-face with him.' "

Smith told reporters Sunday he did not foresee surgery before season's end. However, he reiterated that his knees were sore and bothering him.

Smith has been under the care of Steadman for years. Steadman performed arthroscopic surgery on Smith's left knee in 1992 and a similar procedure on Smith's right knee in 1996.
Levy explained what happened on the sack by Tedy Bruschi on which Todd Collins was injured. Bruschi blitzed through a gap between right guard Jerry Ostroski and right tackle Corey Louchiey. Ostroski was engaged with the Pats' Henry Thomas. Pats end Mike Jones was lined up across from Louchiey. Jones got brushed off the line by tight end Jay Riemersma and was starting to rush toward Louchiey. Thurman Thomas was in the backfield behind Louchiey and moved toward Jones instead of Bruschi.

"Corey had the outside man (Jones) and Thurman had the blitzing linebacker," Levy said. "Corey hesitated for a second as if he was going to pick up the linebacker. . . . It's a couple of guys who haven't worked together enough yet, apparently. Corey probably should have turned out on the outside guy (Jones) and made it more clear-cut for Thurman that he (Thurman) had the linebacker."
Besides Collins and Smith, there were no Bills players with significant injuries. Steve Tasker (groin) and Jeff Burris (hamstring) both are likely to return to practice Thursday. Louchiey has a strained neck muscle, Quinn Early a sore shoulder and Andre Reed a slightly strained abdominal muscle.
Levy on special teams:

"I told the team the single most disappointing aspect of the game to us was the kickoff coverage and kickoff return work we had. Yes, we had some players missing from it who we missed sorely. Steve Tasker, Tim Tindale, Marlon Kerner (who started on defense instead of special teams). But we didn't perform at the level we needed to."

The Bills had drive starts on their 19, 16 and 21 after their first three kickoff returns and had holding penalties on two third-quarter kickoff returns.
Levy on the Bills' effort:

"I don't think we played with a lack of effort. I think we played with a lack of growing confidence during the game."
Drew Bledsoe pushed his career passing yards total to 16,127. He's 25 years old. Dan Marino is the only NFL passer to get to 16,000 yards faster.
Alex Van Pelt, the Bills' third quarterback, played in the fourth quarter Sunday. The third quarterback can enter the game at any time. However, if the third quarterback enters before the fourth quarter, then the first two quarterbacks cannot go back in the game.

If the third quarterback enters in the fourth quarter, and gets hurt, he can replaced by one of the other quarterbacks.

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